Building blocks of a Ferris legacy

Ferris alumni Scott and Sarah Hinkley share their love story

The Ferris Foundation, located in the Prakken Building, has a collection of bricks from dorm halls that the university has torn down, which some Ferris alumni are putting to good use.

A poll done by the Healthy Journal states that 15% of married couples met their spouse in college. Ferris optometry professor and Vision Rehabilitation Services Chief Sarah Hinkley and her husband, Scott Hinkley, who works in Ferris’ facilities management and is Ferris’ current maintenance management system administrator, are a part of this 15%.

Sarah and Scott met during their freshman year in Helen Hall, which was Ferris’ honors hall in 1997. They were both a part of the first running year of the Ferris honors program. Their dorm rooms were just a few doors away from one another.

At the beginning of their freshman year, the Ferris Faculty Association went on strike, which resulted in students not having class for the first few days. It was within this first week that both Sarah and Scott decided to spend their free time socializing on their dorm floor. They ended up in the same friend group, and, after a few weeks, their love story began.

With Ferris’ reputation for optometry and the help of scholarship aid, Sarah decided Ferris was the school for her. Scott grew up in Adrian, Michigan and chose Ferris because it checked all three of his boxes in what he was looking for in a school. 

As the two were both in the honors program, they were required to attend cultural enrichment events. They took the opportunity to go to these events together and call it a date. When they weren’t going to performing arts events, they showed their Bulldog spirit at hockey and basketball games. 

“They were free or cheap [and] good entertainment,” Sarah said. “[We went to] some really good musical performances and plays.”

Sarah and Scott are both Catholic and were in a student group together where they’d go to church and Sunday dinners. Despite the couple being on different career paths, they were able to spend a lot of time together because of their shared interests.

Sarah and Scott Hinkley at the optometry “Eye Ball” in November 2000. Photo provided by the Hinkley’s

“We had a lot in common in terms of our faith and our family backgrounds and our enjoyment of the smaller community of Big Rapids,” Sarah said.

Throughout the years at Ferris, their love only grew. They commemorated this love in June of 2002, when they tied the knot and got married shortly after Scott graduated. When Sarah finished up her schooling and graduated in 2004, she moved to Ohio to be with Scott. The couple spent seven years in Ohio, where Sarah had her own practice. Though it wasn’t the plan for them to move back to Big Rapids, a job opportunity at Ferris arose for Sarah.

“We’ve always had a soft spot for the Big Rapids area,” Sarah said. “[We] really like the community, and the pace of life has a laid back life style.” 

The couple has three children and would love for them to build onto their Ferris legacy. Though college may seem far away for the young kids, the two oldest are already interested in their parents alma mater, so long as Ferris has the programs to support their career paths. 

In 2015, a little over a decade after the two got married, Helen Hall was set to be torn down.

“I work in facilities, so I knew the building was coming down,” Scott said. “I knew in the past they had given opportunities for people to come and get bricks from some of the previous dorms that went down.”

Scott was quick to email MaryKay MacIver, the associate director for Advancement and Prospect Management. Scott told Maclver that the building held a lot of sentimental value to both him and Sarah. He told Maclver that they were thinking of using some bricks from Helen Hall to create a garden walkway or a campfire ring in their backyard. 

“The eventual goal is a good story to talk about when you’re sitting around the campfire,” Scott said. 

MaryKay was able to give Sarah and Scott enough bricks to move forward with this project. Unfortunately, the project has not been started because the pair moved houses shortly after receiving the bricks. They are hopeful to get around to starting and completing the project soon.

Giuliana Denicolo contributed to the writing of this article.